Code Snippet: SQL FileExists

Written by Troy Howard

15 February 2007

Today in the course of my work, I came across a situation where some of the files referred to in our SQL database were not actually on disk where we thought they were.

This was a largeish database of files (over 10,000), and we thought there might be as many as 1600 files missing, so I didn't want to go through each one manually to find the missing files. That led me to this solution: creating a function in SQL to check if the files exist.

The first method I tried for doing this used an undocumented system stored procedure in MSSQL, called xp_fileexist. The code for that looks like this:

-- using MSSQL built-in stored proc xp_fileexist
CREATE FUNCTION FileExists(@File varchar(255)) RETURNS BIT AS
BEGIN
DECLARE @i int
EXEC master..xp_fileexist @File, @i out
RETURN @i
END

It's a pretty simple wrapper around the stored-procedure. Implementing it as a function provides a more versatile tool for querying however, as shown in this example usage:

--- usage
SELECT *
FROM tbl_FileInformation
WHERE (dbo.FileExists(PathAndFile) = 'True')

Unfortunately, this didn't do the trick for us at that time. MS SQL server apparently cannot, under any circumstances, see mapped drives. All of our data was on a drive called P:, which was mapped to a network accessible storage device, that our whole company uses. Not to be discouraged, I thought to myself "Well, perhaps it's just a limitation of the xp_cmdshell options, not SQL server as a whole. May there's another way of finding this out…". So that led me to write this next function, which uses Scripting.FileSystemObject via the OLE Automation Options. First things first, I needed to run the following commands to enable OLE Automation, to make it possible:

-- configuring for use of scripting object
sp_configure 'show advanced options', 1; 
GO RECONFIGURE; 
GO sp_configure 'Ole Automation Procedures', 1; 
GO RECONFIGURE; 
GO

That's the SQL native way, the other option is to use Surface Area Configuartion and enable it via the check-box. Once that was out of the way, I could try out my function…

-- Using the scripting object
CREATE FUNCTION FileExists(@File varchar(255)) RETURNS BIT AS
BEGIN
declare @objFSys int
declare @i int

exec sp_OACreate 'Scripting.FileSystemObject', @objFSys out
exec sp_OAMethod @objFSys, 'FileExists', @i out, @File
exec sp_OADestroy @objFSys

return @i
END

But… unfortunately, this gave the same results.

So, the moral of the story? Kids, MS SQL just can't see mapped drives. Give it up now!

That said, UNC paths work fine and if you're lucky enough to have all your data on a drive that's local to the SQL server, and find yourself needing to know if a file you've got referenced still exists, then give these methods a try! YMMV.

Update : Well, duh, what I wasn't paying attention to at the time was that the mapped drive wasn't mapped on the SQL server. If this was true, it probably would have worked. Either way – storing absolute paths in the database, if they aren't UNC paths, is just asking for trouble.